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Pasadena Congresswoman Judy Chu Votes to Pass HR 7521, Requiring China-Based ByteDance to Sell TikTok

Published on Thursday, March 14, 2024 | 6:19 am

In a significant move aimed at safeguarding national security and data privacy, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 352-65 to pass House Resolution 7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act that would compel ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to divest its ownership of the immensely popular social media platform to an American entity or one headquartered in a non-adversarial nation.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents Pasadena and California’s 28th Congressional District, is one of the 352 that voted for the bill. In a  statement, Chu spoke about the potential risks associated with foreign control of internet-based technologies, particularly concerning data privacy, propaganda, censorship, and election interference.

“Unlike with older forms of telecommunications technology, the operators of apps like TikTok also collect and use enormous amounts of personal data from their users, as well as have the power to influence their algorithms,” Chu said. “That is why I voted ‘yes’ on this legislation, which would not ban TikTok but rather require ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to sell it to an American company or another headquartered in a non-adversarial country. As long as that process occurs, Americans can continue to use the application with no interruption in service.”

Chu also noted President Joe Biden’s support for the legislation, indicating that he intends to sign it into law. With 352 House members voting in favor, including a substantial number of both Republicans and Democrats, the legislation now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

If enacted, the legislation would compel ByteDance to divest its stake in TikTok within six months or face a potential ban in the United States. The bill’s authors argue that it provides ByteDance with the opportunity to sell TikTok and avoid a ban, thereby safeguarding the interests of American users while addressing national security concerns.

TikTok, which has 170 million users in the US, has said it’s not clear if China would approve any sale, or that it could be divested in six months.

“This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States,” a company statement released after the committee vote said. “The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their constitutional right to free expression. This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

“I acknowledge and share some of the concerns raised by my colleagues about the impact of this bill on free expression and the singling out of a specific company,” Chu said. “But after consideration, I chose to vote ‘yes’ because I believe this bill will preserve Americans’ ability to use the service while protecting our data and national security.”

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